Irrefutable Refutation of Hyper-Preterism

For starters, let’s define some terms. By “hyper-preterism,” I include any and all belief systems that argue that all biblical prophecy is fulfilled, which necessarily includes the general resurrection of the dead. Whether a system is labeled “full-preterism,” “pantelism,” or “covenant eschatology,” it makes no difference to this refutation. I can not care less what any of these systems positively state regarding the general resurrection. At one time, I counted at least six different views among them. They can hash out their heretical opinions amongst themselves. But what they all have in common is that an “all-is-fulfilled eschatology” must of necessity deny a general, self-same, bodily resurrection.

The purpose of this post is to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that this same denial existed among a few at the church in Corinth, and Paul destroys their false belief in 1 Corinthians 15, esp. verses 12-18. Doing so, Paul affirms the belief in bodily resurrection and since this has not yet occurred, it remains a prophecy to be fulfilled, thus refuting any view that claims that “all prophecy is fulfilled.”

Some of my readers may be unfamiliar with this chapter, so let me set this up. The letter of 1 Corinthians is a corrective epistle by the Apostle Paul, designed to correct numerous problems in their church, including but not limited to misuse of the Lord’s Supper, cliques, abuse of spiritual gifts, sexual immorality, and so on. When we reach chapter 15, Paul is addressing a false belief held by some that the “dead are not raised.”

We know this to be the case because of verse 12b, where Paul asks, “how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

That some in Corinth were denying the “resurrection of the dead” is unquestioned, even by hyper-preterists. But what is questioned is the nature of the resurrection that they rejected.

I will now prove to you that what this small group in Corinth were denying was a self-same, bodily resurrection.

First, I want to draw your attention to how Paul starts his defense:

Verse 1. Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me….11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Notice a couple of things from this:

1. Note the essential elements of the Gospel that Paul highlights, to begin his defense. The Gospel consisted of Christ’s physical death for our sins, the burial of that same body, and the physical resurrection of that same body. Everything highlighted here by Paul involves the physical body of Christ.

2. Note that Paul now moves on to inform the Corinthians that hundreds, if not thousands, of people, witnessed a bodily resurrected Christ. And just in case you doubt the nature of Jesus’ resurrected body, Lk 24 reminds you:

Lk 24.37 they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

Paul does not want you, the reader, to miss the undeniable fact that Jesus physically died, was buried, and bodily resurrected from the grave; and hundreds of people could attest to that fact.

3. Note that having reminded the Corinthians of the bodily resurrection of Christ, which makes up an essential element to his Gospel, Paul reminds the Corinthians that this is the Gospel I preached to you, which “you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached…

Here is an important observation: these resurrection deniers did not deny the bodily resurrection of Christ! What they refused, for various reasons, was that the rest of the dead would be resurrected. But because they believed in the bodily resurrection of Christ, Paul is now able to capitalize on that shared belief and demonstrate that if they deny the resurrection for the rest of the dead, they must of necessity reject that which they accepted, the bodily resurrection of Christ.

Paul hammers this home a couple of times:

Verse 12: Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.

He argues again in v 16:

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

And herein lies the undeniable proof that the resurrection that this “some” in Corinth were denying was of a self-same, bodily nature.

First, note that Paul’s primary argument against these deniers was to establish a LOGICAL, thus NECESSARILY IMPLIED, relationship between the “resurrection of the dead” with the “resurrection of Christ.” It is that LOGICAL relationship between these two beliefs which constitutes the force of Paul’s argument.

If we were to convert Paul’s words to the language of logical forms, Paul is essentially arguing in verses 13 and 16 that “if it is true that ‘No A is B,’ then it cannot be true that ‘Some A is B.'”

Now, I could spend a great deal of time getting into a technical explanation of logic, propositional forms, immediate inferences, syllogisms, and so on. But I don’t want to lose some readers. The basic idea is really simple here. Anyone can grasp this. Let’s put it in plain English:

If a person is claiming that no one can raise from the dead, then he is claiming that resurrection of the dead is UNIVERSALLY impossible. No one can do it. There are no exceptions. And if that is true, then obviously it cannot be true at the same time that a PARTICULAR person can raise from the dead; because now you are making the exception and contradicting yourself. Either no one can do it, or some can. It cannot be both.

And the flip side to it is this; if it is true that Jesus rose from the dead, which these deniers accepted, then obviously it is false to say that “no one” can raise from the dead. Simple, right?

Secondly, having demonstrated the logical relationship between the two propositions, let us now consider an essential component of logical relationships. In order for Paul’s logical argument to work, his terms have to mean the same thing throughout! Because if a word or phrase means different things in an argument, then the propositions are talking about two different things, and thus the relationship is broken. In logic, this is the fallacy known as equivocation.

If “resurrection of the dead” for the general populace does not mean the same thing that “resurrection of the dead” means in regards to Jesus, then Paul’s logical argument loses support!

Imagine this: Suppose you argue that, “No man can jump 100ft in the air solely on his own muscle power.” And then a challenger comes along and says, “hogwash! My brother jumped 150ft in the air!”

“Prove it,” you say. So the guy drives home, picks up his brother, and returns to you.

“Alright, let’s see you jump.”

The guy then slips on some futuristic rocket boots by NASA, jumps about a foot high, triggering the thrusters, and launches 150ft into the air.

Did he prove it? OF COURSE NOT. Why? Because jumping with rocket boots is NOT the same thing as jumping “solely on your own muscle power.”

Those are two totally different things. You didn’t argue that no one could do it with NASA rocket boots. You argued that no one could do it “solely on their own power.”

Again, simple, right?

Paul’s LOGICAL argument is that if we are going to claim that no one, universally, can raise from the dead, then it is impossible for Jesus, a particular example within that universal, to have risen from the dead.

The force of Paul’s argument rests in these two points: (1) he establishes a logical relationship between the “resurrection of Christ” with the “resurrection” of other dead people and (2) whatever is meant by “resurrection” must mean the same thing throughout the argument, in order for the argument to work. And since the self-same, bodily resurrection of Christ is clearly in view, (see the introduction above where Paul clearly define the physicality of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection with the eye-witness testimonies of a bodily resurrected Christ from hundreds), then the self-same, bodily “resurrection of the dead” is what is in view for the rest of the dead.

We can paraphrase Paul in this manner, to bring out fully his meaning:

If it is impossible for dead bodies to resurrect, then it logically follows that Christ’s dead body did not resurrect.

And folks, if that is true, then, as Paul goes on to explain, all those who witnessed and spoke of the resurrected Christ are liars. You might as well chunk your Bible.

But bodily resurrection of the dead is not impossible. And Exhibit A is Jesus Christ himself, who not only bodily resurrected, but was seen by hundreds, if not thousands, and was the “firstfruit of those fallen asleep.” (v. 20)

There is no other way to understand Paul’s words here. Some were denying the resurrection of bodies, yet accepted that Christ bodily rose, so Paul argues that those two beliefs are contradictory to one another because of the logical relationship between them. They both cannot be true at the same time. And since Christ did bodily rise, then there can be no objection to the rest of us bodily rising. Thus, the physical and bodily resurrection for the rest of us is established.

If a heretical hyper-preterist (or any other resurrection denier) wants to argue that the nature of their denial involved something other than self-same, bodily resurrection, they have to demonstrate, at minimum, two things: (there is so much more to get into with this chapter)

1. What is the nature of the resurrection that they denied?

2. How does the nature of that denial correspond directly to the nature of Christ’s resurrection, so that Paul can include the particular example of Christ within the universal negative and thus not commit a logical fallacy by equivocating on terms?

What hyper-preterists posit simply cannot make sense of Paul’s logical argument and everything leading up to it.

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3 years ago

Or it could be that when they said there was no resurrection of the dead they were teaching that the old covenant saints wouldn’t be resurrected. In other words. If Christ is the first fruits from the old covenant saints how can you say there is no resurrection of the dead ones(old covenant saints). The dead being resurrected in question is not “all” dead. They already believed those “in Christ” would be resurrected but not the old covenant ones. But Paul uses the modis podens argument :

If you believe that Christ was the firstfruits (of the old covenant saints) and that your loved ones and any in Christ will be raised , then you must also believe in the resurrection of the old covenant saints as well.

John Flora
John Flora
2 years ago

Thanks for your article, Jason; I think you nailed it.
I’ve been wrestling with the hyper preterist view for a while now.. it seems to me that if their view of resurrection as having already occurred in the first century can be proven as false (which I think your argument demonstrates), then the entire system of full preterism goes straight down the tubes, don’t you think?
Because all eschatological elements are inseparably linked within the same time frame e.g. resurrection from the dead, final judgment, pervasive elimination of sin and death from all sectors of reality, etc…

John Flora
John Flora
Reply to  Jason L Bradfield
2 years ago

Hi, Jason; I didn’t realize you had replied to my comment, thanks for the response; I came back today to reference your article for my pastor, we’ve been talking a little about hyper-preterism, and wanted to send him your link here.

Yes, absolutely, the “already/not yet” prophetic pattern is all through the scriptures.
When reading your reply, the passage that came to mind is John 5:25-29..

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice

and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”

I think when Jesus says in vs 25 that “the hour.. is now here” of the dead hearing his voice and coming alive/receiving life..
isn’t only the kingdom breaking in with Jesus’ miracles in his earthly ministry, such as Lazarus coming back to life, but that was also the start of the promised resurrection from the dead for the whole house of Israel i.e. spiritual resurrection by the hearing of faith through the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom, the gospel of grace.

But, in vss 28-29, all those in the tombs will hear him and come out at “the coming hour”..

So, what I’m getting at is sort of like your logic in your article, but in reverse..
why would he say they were hearing and living at the very moment he was speaking, but then at a coming hour, they’re coming out of the tombs, both good and bad?
In other words, coming out of the tombs has to be something different than the hearing and living that was happening as he was speaking..
which can only mean actual bodily resurrection from the tombs, as far as I can tell.

If not, then why else would he word it with seemingly calculated, differing descriptions for the now and the not yet?
Maybe I’m over analyzing? What do you think?

John Flora
John Flora
2 years ago my last comment, I basically said Israel was already “hearing and living” while Jesus speaking with them..
but, it would have been clearer for me to say they were already “hearing and coming alive” (spiritual regeneration).

Just wanted to clarify.

Mark Tinley
Mark Tinley
2 years ago

I am a full-preterist. I have to be honest that I did not read your article because I have heard these arguments which you call “irrefutable” many times over the last 20 years. Just skimming it was enough to show it was nothing really new to me. The truth is ….

* Blah, Blah, Blah *

Jon Paul
Jon Paul
2 years ago

At the end of your article you asked:

1. What is the nature of the resurrection that they denied?

What if the nature of the resurrection of which Christ is an example was not that he was physically raised but that he returned from Sheol, the place where the Old Covenant saints were kept?
The question Paul is addressing is not can physical bodies be raised but if people who have once gone to Sheol can then have some sort of renewed life afterward and Christ’s physical resurrection was a demonstration of that. Christ proceeded to go onto heaven later, he didn’t remain on earth.

Later in verse 54 he says

54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

What death was he talking about here? Physical death? No, Sheol death.

Hosea 13:14
I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol;
I shall redeem them from Death.
O Death, where are your plagues?
O Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from my eyes.

This tells us where the saints lived at the time Paul wrote this epistle. They were in Sheol waiting for the resurrection unto heaven (2 Corinthians 5). Now if you are saying that the dead weren’t raised in 70AD, then of necessity you must conclude that believers go to Sheol when we die today not to heaven.

Now you have argued that they would be bodily raised. That also demands that they are meant to live on earth forever. Now you could say heaven in earth merge in the end but either way it must be visible on earth. However, the Bible never describes earth as the final dwelling place of Christians but heaven.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, **eternal in the heavens**. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our **heavenly dwelling**, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.”

Philippians 3:20-21 But **our citizenship is in heaven**. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

They weren’t being resurrected so they could live forever on earth, they were being resurrected so they could live forever in Heaven with their new “Heavenly bodies.” And as I have already proven, they were coming directly from Sheol.

In the traditional Christian view, we all went to Heaven at the cross and then will return to earth in the last days in a resurrected body. That of necessity demands that we are disembodied spirits floating in heaven with no resurrected body. But when Revelation describes the resurrection of the dead where does it say they are coming from? Heaven? No, Sheol or it’s Greek equivalent, “Hades.”

12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, **Death and Hades (Sheol) gave up the dead who were in them**, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them.

The dead were coming out of Sheol to a new life in Heaven, not from Heaven to a new life on earth.

Now if the dead spirits were invisible in Sheol, and they would be resurrected in new Heavenly bodies to dwell in Heaven which is invisible, why would their resurrection have to be visible to us?

However we do have signs of this resurrection happening:

Josephus (A.D. 75) – Jewish Historian

“Besides these [signs], a few days after that feast, on the one- and-twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence” (Antiquities of the Jews book 17-20 – The life of Flavius Josephus)

Daniel Morais of states:
In A.D. 66 when the Jewish revolt began, Nero Caesar was in Greece building a canal. Concerning the construction of this waterway, Cassius Dio writes, “[W]hen the first workers touched the earth, blood spouted from it, groans and bellowings were heard, and many phantoms appeared. Nero himself thereupon grasped a mattock and by throwing up some of the soil fairly compelled the rest to imitate him.” [Cassius Dio Roman History 63.16.] In recording this same event, Suetonius indicates that as Nero broke the ground the sound of a trumpet was heard. [Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 6.19.] The fact that a trumpet was heard at the time in which the dead were raised is a clear fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15:52: “For the trumpet will sound, [and] the dead will be raised imperishable . . .”

We have evidence by multiple historians that the dead were raised in 66AD when Jesus was seen on the clouds. However they didn’t remain on the earth forever because they were called to Heaven, not earth. Likewise, when we believers die today we will immediately be in our resurrected bodies and dwell in heaven. We don’t go to Sheol anymore when we die. Sheol was defeated. Death was defeated when Jesus returned, just as he promised.

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